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Box Updates API, Adds iPhone, iPad Partners

With streamlined API and account integration with partner apps, Box tries to boost developer ecosystem, strengthen position compared to new rival Google Drive.
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Box is streamlining its application programming interface (API) and making it easier for other applications to tap into the service as a backend for their own storage, Box announced Wednesday.

Box also announced 15 new partners for OneCloud, its software development kit for Apple's iOS operating system (also coming soon to Android). OneCloud simplifies the development of iPhone and iPad applications that integrate with Box for cloud storage.

Box has had an API for application integration from the beginning, and it has about 170 products available through its apps gallery for enterprise use, Matthew Self, VP of platform engineering at Box, said in an interview. However, version 2 of the API is fully RESTful, meaning that it takes advantage of the Representational State Transfer conventions for passing commands and data between applications. The new API switches to JavaScript object notation (JSON), rather than Extensible Markup Language (XML), for data transfer. These changes make the API more consistent with the way Web developers work today and should make integration faster and easier, Self said. Documentation for the new API has also been simplified.

"The old API grew organically, but for V2 we redesigned everything from the ground up," Self said. Box will support both in parallel, at least through the end of the year, he said. The new version of the API is in beta now, with full production scheduled for this summer.

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The version 2 API includes "instant mode" provisioning of Box storage for applications when the user does not already have a Box account. "Before, you had a certain amount of friction, where the user would have to create an account on Box and also create an account on the other service," Self said. "Now applications can integrate with Box without additional friction on the signup process." At least for now, this is all free to the application developer, he said.

Developers will also get better access to Box collaboration features such as discussions, the platform's most popular social feature.

Meanwhile, Box is improving its appeal to mobile developers with a OneCloud update that makes it easier to add cloud storage to any iOS application. New OneCloud partners include CloudOn, Breezy, Explain Everything, BlueBeam Vu, Handshake, iAnnotate, iDesk, iDocShelf, InBound, LincDoc,, Notability, Producteev, ScrumPad Pro, and The Vault.

Advancing the API and developer relations may be particularly important following Tuesday's announcement of Google Drive, the long-rumored, long-delayed file-sharing service. InformationWeek mobile computing reporter Eric Zeman praised Google Drive for the way it rounds out the Google Apps suite of productivity tools. API integration with third-party applications is one of the strengths of Google Drive.

Box believes it has the edge on Google when it comes to business applications requiring better security and control over file-sharing permissions, Self said.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and

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